Staying in the Driver's Seat: Six Tips to Release the Grip of the Inner Critic


This. I took this picture last night before I pushed my way-too-big-for-the-stroller-five-year-old around the block (read: mountain) before dinner.

We had a beautiful Christmas morning - and for the first time in five years, I didn't get bulldozed by a trigger from the trauma of that November morning. And yet, I could hear the rumblings of my inner critic.

So much sitting. No movement. Too much sugar. Not enough nutrients. Telling me that my small choices don't matter because they weren't all on point. A walk won't matter. Trying desperately to keep me in a place of powerlessness.

Which is exactly why I walked. 

This voice is familiar. And thankfully, I've learned how to release its grip.

Our small choices matter. And, they don't have to all be 'perfect' to count.

That walk wasn't about the sugar. Or the exercise. Or being still. 

I needed those thirty minutes. The alone time with my Heart Warrior. Fresh air on my face. Heart pumping. The smiles. The star-filled sky. The snow falling on my face. 

Those thirty minutes brought me back into my body.

Quieting the noise.

Providing perspective. 


This time of year can ignite a fire storm of critical self-talk. It can get really loud in there. I know - I get it. I'm with you.

If your critical self-talk is getting LOUD. Raging at you for not getting it ‘right.’

Attacking your body.

For eating one too many. For drinking that drink. For the way your pants fit. For the way you look. For all the things you didn’t do. Including those workouts.

It’s all your fault, it roars.

Words piercing. Penetrating all parts of you.

Attacking your choices. 

Attacking your progress.

For not being where you wanted to be. For not sticking to those resolutions. For not hitting that end-of-year milestone.

This is a HARD time of year. The busyness. The extra things to do. The expectations. The end of another year. 

For many of us - the dark. And cold.

Everywhere we turn, we are bombarded by idealistic images and messages of what life is supposed to be like. What it’s supposed to look like. What it’s supposed to feel like.

What happens when it's not any of those things?

What happens when our REAL LIFE moments don't measure up to how it's supposed to be?  


Cue, Inner Critic. Anxiety. And all things born out of fear.


That space between how it's supposed to be - and how it actually is - THAT is the birthplace of the Inner Critic.

The disconnect fueling it's rage.

Isolating you. Beating you up. Keeping you stuck in your own mind.

Just try harder. What’s wrong with you, it asks.

To that, I call bullshit.

I see you. The you underneath all that noise.

And, I know. This voice is not you.

{ Breathe. }

We all have an inner critic - it's part of being fully human. Born out of fear and shaped by our life experiences. We can't control how often it shows up - or what it says. 

We CAN control how we respond.

I've been doing this work for seventeen years and my inner critic still chirps. And. I've learned how to stay in the driver's seat - no longer handing over my power to that bullying voice taking up space in my mind.

It's liberating here. And it's less noisy too. The more you practice, the more aware you'll become. The more aware you are, the easier it is to separate YOU from that voice. 

To the YOU underneath all that noise ~ 

Here are six practices to help you stay in the driver's seat: 

1. Drop the supposed to's. Drop them. Give yourself permission to  be exactly where you are right now.  It's OK to feel disappointed. It's OK to want growth. It's not OK to use those feeling as weapons to attack your worthiness.

2. Recognize that this voice is not YOU. Make that powerful distinction by giving it a name. I named my inner critic ED because it drove me straight into the darkness that is an eating disorder. 

3. Expect it. It's manipulative and opportunistic. AND, in many ways predictable. Feeling overwhelmed by life? Run down? Not enough self-care? Thrust into a stressful environment? You can count on your inner critic to rear its head.

4. Drop the rope. There is absolutely no winning with the inner critic. When you catch yourself arguing - or negotiating - drop the rope. See it. Notice it. Hear it. And RELEASE it.

5. Choose your response. You can't prevent the inner critic from chirping. You can decide if you're going to give it attention. You could spend your whole life standing at the front door - trying to shut it out. If you do that - you'll miss the party happening inside your house that is LIVING. You certainly don't want it to stay - so open the front door AND the backdoor and graciously thank it for showing up and then show it out.

Oh, there you are. I see you. Thanks for showing up. I've got this. RELEASE.  

6. Share. Create a list of people who have earned the right to be in your inner circle of feedback. They can help you reality-check. Your inner critic does not want you to share what it's saying to you because it's sidekick is shame; it needs isolation to survive. Here's a sentence starter I use: Here's what ED is telling me.

This self-talk is not your edge. It's not what's driving you toward your dreams.

I know it's hard work. 

And, I know you can do hard things.

THIS work is the kind of hard that will set you free. 


And, this is the kind of work we'll do together inside the online learning community that is The Compassion Project, launching in January 2018. Together we'll cultivate the clarity, courage, compassion and connection needed to LIVE our dreams - to step into a life that is fully our own. To live unapologetically free.

To be in the know head over here to stay connected!

Creating this platform has been on my heart for years. It's time. I hope you join me. 

For now, join me in the THE I AM CHALLENGE community space. {It's free.}


Samantha Livingstone is an Olympic Gold Medalist, transformational speaker, high performance coach and mama of four.  She inspires and empowers others to cultivate the courage, resilience and perseverance needed to let go of perfection and other limiting beliefs so they can live their dream. Samantha candidly shares her battles with her inner critic, depression, perfection, PTSD and parenting as a working mother because she believes in the transformative power of story – and the strength that comes from knowing we are not alone. She is on a mission to pay forward all that she’s learned to help others find joy and live free.  

A mama of heart warrior and mama of twins, Samantha and her husband, Rob, live in the Berkshires with their four girls.  

You can learn more about Samantha at